Mailbox providers retiring inactive accounts

Mailbox providers retiring inactive accounts and what it means for hotel marketers

Mailbox providers (MBP) such as Google, Yahoo, and others are retiring inactive accounts, a move that benefits them by reducing storage costs and freeing up desirable accounts and email addresses. Google recently made headlines with its announcement that accounts inactive for 2 years will be retired, starting as early as December 2023. Yahoo, on the other hand, has been retiring inactive accounts after just 12 months since 2013.

When a MBP retires an inactive account, it is deleted. All emails sent to the associated email address will hard bounce. Then, in as little as 30 days, accounts can be made available again for new account users.

What are the concerns for hotel marketers?

Impact to database size

As mailbox providers deactivate accounts, hotels will lose subscribers. While inactivity with a Yahoo email account differs from inactivity with an email subscription, they appear the same to marketers analyzing their email analytics. Hotels should regularly re-engage subscribers throughout the year, rather than only once, to grow and maintain an engaged email list.

Increase in hard bounces

With the deactivation of emails, hotels will experience higher bounce rates, affecting their Deliver Rate and engagement metrics like Click Through Rate (CTR). While Yahoo has retired inactive accounts for years, Google’s recent update will impact hotels. Any sender sending to inactive accounts that have not engaged with their mail for over 2 years faces risks like hitting recycled spam traps or unintentionally violating international spam laws such as CASL and GDPR.

ProTip: Find a CRM with reporting that allows hotels to review bounces by email domain.

Increase in spam complaints

Since retired inactive email addresses become available to new users, there’s a risk that if an email address turns over quickly, a hotel’s campaign could be marked as spam by the unintended subscriber. Abuse Complaints / Spam Complaints should be monitored for each campaign.

Mailbox providers are taking measures to minimize this by doing the following (Source: Oracle):

  • Alerting the account owner via their recovery contact information before retiring an account
  • Deleting all content, contacts, and other information associated with a retired account
  • Prioritizing the retirement of accounts that don’t have email accounts associated with them
  • Unsubscribing retired accounts from all commercial email, including newsletters and promotional email subscriptions

ProTip: Find a CRM that will suppress hard bounces from future sends, or update your email strategy to exclude repeated hard bounces.

Subscriber engagement plays a crucial role in email deliverability. Hotel marketers must employ tactics and strategies that increase engagement, such as effective email design and targeting, while actively managing inactive subscribers. It’s essential to send campaigns to engaged subscribers and exclude recipients who have not opened or clicked a campaign in the last 2 years to minimize the risk associated with Google’s recent update. If you’d like more information on ways to improve your hotel’s email marketing strategy, contact us today at or visit


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